Sunday, December 05, 2010

Outlaw Perfume Project- Final Thoughts

First- It's about time I announce the winner of Notoriety by A Wing And A Prayer:

Conratulations to Hotlanta Linda! Please email me so we can make arrangements.

Now, for my thoughts.
More than a revolution or a rebellion, I see the Outlaw Perfume Project as something along the lines of the Rally To Restore Sanity. The IFRA issue has been discussed to death and still makes absolutely no sense. Everything else in the universe, from food to household detergents, has labels that warn those with allergies of possible irritants. Thus, allowing us to make informed decisions and purchases, avoid peanuts or shellfish if they have the potential to kill us and stay away from things that may cause a reaction. So why not apply the same logic to perfume?

For the record, neither the Outlaw Perfumes nor any vintage formulation that contains hazardous materials such as citrus oil, rose absolute, jasmine absolute, oakmoss and others has ever caused me an allergic reaction. I do get itchy rashes from items like many household cleaners, Dove soap, Herbal Essence shampoo, several hair styling products and probably other things I can't recall right now. But never from perfume.

Yes, I know the answer is complex and has a lot to do with business decisions some of the big houses have lived to regret. Yes, most prominent perfumers work for the Big Boys, and at first refused to talk, especially on the record. But we're at the point their artistic freedom has been so limited, someone (I wish I saved the source and exact quote) said the restrictions are the equivalent of a painter being forbidden from using the color blue. Once again, what happened to sanity and common sense?

Apparently, with independent perfumers. The Natural Perfumer Guild spearheaded the Outlaw campaign and proved that real perfume is still alive and well. Other perfumer outside of the Guild, both natural/botanical artists and those who rely on the entire spectrum of materials, have been doing their thing with vision and integrity for years now and ignoring IFRA. Of course, this (and other factors) means their ability to sell and market their work might be limited, and this is where we, as perfume lovers, come into play.

As much as it's tempting to stock up and hoard vintage perfumes on all their rose and oakmoss goodness, the prices of those has been steadily climbing, sometimes to insane levels. Personally, I refuse to pay three figure prices for bottles that used to be readily available and never considered high-end or luxurious. Frankly, it also goes to former department store perfumes that all of a sudden have become a rarity. Instead, I'd rather pay real perfume artists for their often handmade creations. Those among them who use the best raw ingredients give us some of the most unique products on the market. This is true luxury and I have every intention to keep supporting them.

How about you?

Photo: Jane Russel posing for the movie poster of Outlaw, 1943, from


  1. Hi,

    I absolutely agree. In the same way I'd rather spend money on an original piece of art (versus a Home Interiors framed picture), I'd much rather spend money on perfume artisans.

    By the way, thank you for the info on DSH's coupon... I was getting ready to order some things from her site, in addition to ordering a sample of Mata Hari (your review, and a few others, have me almost buying it unsniffed), so the coupon really helped.


  2. I raised the IFRA issue at my latest book club meeting -- no one except me had heard about it. We had a really good discussion though, many international trade and intellectual property types among us, and several of us have been to Grasse and have done "the tour" in the fragrance industry.

    Since we live in Geneva, Switzerland the view that ultimately surfaced was linked back to the business of the essences and who profits from the IFRA changes. According to some of the women in my book club, there is a single manufacturer, owned by single family, who makes these artificial essences that the industry is now relying upon, instead of the dozens of small producers. Like farming, the industry is being taken over by larger corporations and is being consolidated; small and medium producers are disappearing.

    The family who owns this company (don't know the name, or any specific details, this is all just dinner conversation) is unbelievably rich and getting even richer -- and they live here in Geneva, which is how some of the people in my book club know about it. In the past, I may have found it unbelievable that a single company could manipulate the market in such a way, but these days, I don't dismiss such possibilities any more.

    Food for thought, in any case... because frankly, this is the only explanation for the IFRA regulations I have ever heard which makes any sense.

  3. I totally agree and support the idea of sticking to the small perfumers that don't shackle themselves with these stupid, useless regulations.

    If I'm willing to buy from the Farmers Market rather than Fresh 'N Easy and make sure that my coffee is fair-market why shouldn't I do that with my perfume?

  4. Gaia, here's the quote (it's an excellent one)with a link:
    "We’re very worried," says, exasperated, Patrick Saint-Yves, president of the French Society of Perfumers(FPS). "What if you were running an association of painters and suddenly you are prohibited to use the color blue?"

  5. I'd like to note that the current perfumes I buy which are modern formulations, no matter what the company, will break me out or irritate my skin if I spray it on me. Should we just ban perfumes overall? No. I just spray my clothing or specific areas that I know will not react. See? Personal responsibility. I must try these outlaws!


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